Author Topic: Priest faces trial over child’s exorcism death  (Read 658 times)

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Priest faces trial over child’s exorcism death
« on: January 21, 2012, 05:02:55 AM »
A priest and five of his congregants – 3 of them young women – from the African Gospel Church face trial in South Africa accused of murdering a child during a “violent” exorcism recently. The 7-year-old girl, Mihlali Ngcongco Mazantsi, had been diagnosed with epilepsy. The priest, 30-year-old Lonwabo Thanda, faces the murder charge along with Patrick Nodaka (22), Unathi Norushu (21), Ntebohelene Thukani (21), and Busisiwe Thukani, (24).  The five have also been charged with the attempted murder of an unnamed 25-year-old woman. Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the group killed the child while conducting the exorcism in KwaNomzamo township, Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape. “The parents and the church members felt that the child was demonised and needed prayer,” said Naidu.

A post-mortem revealed that she had sustained both external and internal injuries, including liver damage. The child had been sent to the church by her mother after a friend told her that the church could heal her child through prayer. She said: “I thought she would get her healing miracle in the church. On our arrival in Humansdorp, Pastor Lonwabo Thando told me she had to live in the [pastor's] house for her to receive deliverance. The main church [service] on Sundays was held in a tent erected in an opposite field near the pastor’s family house where she [Mihlali] and the other “demon-possessed” people were kept locked up. The Sunday of her death, I had visited her. I was in the same house all weekend, but wasn’t allowed to see her even though I slept in the opposite room. I insisted on seeing her that night as I was going back home the following day. My child was weak – her face was swollen so much that she couldn’t open her left eye. She also complained about body pain when I tried to hug her. As I was talking to her, she started coughing and vomiting and her eyes were rolling. While the congregants were praying, someone called an ambulance. She died on her way to hospital.” The 25-year-old victim did not want to be named because she feared for her life, and said she had spent “four horrific weeks locked up like a prisoner in the church house” and was allegedly repeatedly assaulted by the pastor and some of the parishioners.

KwaNomzamo residents celebrated with song and dance outside the church after learning that the accused were being held in jail. One said the church had accused some of the residents of practising witchcraft. “Every night between midnight and 4am, the church intercessors would run up and down the streets and into our yards, shouting ‘fire’ with their hands opened. We can’t sleep properly as this noise will carry on throughout the night. They often came to my house and accused me of being a witch.” Noncedo Norushu, whose sister, Unathi, is one of the accused, said the church had brainwashed her sister to the extent that she called her own father a witch and had left home to stay in the church. “My father is a respectable leader of another church,” she said. “It pains him to see his daughter drifting away from the family. Ever since she started staying in the church, she has become a stranger whom we don’t even know how to approach.” Ntutu Lingani said the church had “started as a weekend revival. Everyone was happy because there was less crime in the area and people spent their weekend worshipping at the tent. But as time went by, parishioners and their priest started calling people names and accused others of practising witchcraft… Several times we laid a complaint with our councillor and police, but no one took us seriously until now.”

A sixth person was later taken into custody accused of the girl’s murder. All six have now appeared in Humansdorp Magistrates Court for bail applications, and have said they will plead not guilty to the murder and attempted murder charges. They told the court that the “demon” possessing the girl manifested as a snake inside her stomach. One of the accused has admitted that she assaulted Mihlali, but claimed “she was fighting the demon inside the girl’s body.”
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 07:34:12 AM by Jake »